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Capt. John Y. McKinney (1836-1912)
Born in Detroit, moved to Bay City with his parents in 1850.

1905 biography. (Added May, 2010.)

History of Bay County, Michigan - Gansser, 1905.


Capt. John Y. McKinney, who is engaged in market gardening with good sense, is the owner of a valuable tract of land in Portsmouth township, on the boundary line of Bay City. He was engaged in the sawmill businiess for a period of 28 years, and is well known to the citizens of this county.

Captain McKinney was born in Detroit, Michigan, June 28, 1836, and is a son of Ira and Elizabeth (Somerville) McKinney. His father was born in Orange county, New York, December 27, 1804 and was reared on a farm. He worked on the home farm until he arrived at his majority, then went to New York City and engaged in mercantile business. He later engaged the grocery business there, and took an active part in politics, being a staunch Whig. His connection with politics led to the ruin of his business, although he was not a seeker for office himself. About 1834, he removed to Detroit and went to work in a sawmill, continuing there until 1850, in which year he came to Bay City. He formed a partnership with C. L. Russell, of Cleveland, Ohio, under the firm name of Russell & McKinney, and engaged in the sawmill business, there mill being located on Fremont avenue. They continued actively in the business until 1860, when the mill was rented to John Y. McKinney, our subject. In 1858 Ira McKinney bought of the government a farm of 40 acres on the west side of what is now Michigan avenue, opposite the present home of our subject. He carried on the general farming and lived on this property until his death on April 4, 1888. Politically he was first a Whig and in after years a Republican. January 15, 1827, he was joined in marriage with Elizabeth Somerville, who was born in Ireland May 10, 1801, and was the youngest of 18 children born to her parents. She came to America with two brothers and was married to Mr. McKinney in New York City. They were parents of the following children: Sarah Jane, born December 5, 1827, and deceased October 12, 1878, who was the wife of Humphrey Owen, a prominent lumberman of Detroit; James Renwick, born January 17, 1830, deceased August 30, 1848; Lucinda, born December 1, 1832, who was first married to Charles Wilber, and later to Clark Johnson, of Bay City, -- she is now a widow and resides in St. Paul, Minneapolis; Mary Ellen, born March 12, 1834, who married Henry N. Eastman, December 22, 1850, and is now a widow residing in Des Moines, Iowa; John Y., our subject: William, who was born and died on January 16, 1840; and Eliza, born June 1, 1843, who is the wife of Daniel Campbell, of Denver, Colorado. Mrs. McKinney died October 2, 1865, aged 64 years. She and her husband were members of the Universalist Church.

John Y. McKinney attended the public schools of Detroit and Bay City, and during his boyhood days worked in his father's mill. In 1860, he rented this mill and conducted it until 1861, when it was destroyed by an explosion.

He then placed in operation the first circular-saw sawmill on the Saginaw River. On July 3, 1862, he enlisted in Company F., 23rd Reg., Michigan Vol. Inf., and served with the regiment throughout the Civil War. He went out as a lieutenant and in 1864 was promoted to a captaincy. He was honorably discharged in 1865 and returned to Bay City, where he became foreman of a sawmill. He continued identified with sawmills until 1893, and in that time accumulated quite an estate, which included six stores, a skating rink and fine residence. He then purchased 17 acres of land in Portsmouth township, adjoining Bay City, and has a fine truck garden, orchard and vineyard. He has 200 grape vines, and an orchard of 400 trees, comprised of peach, pear, plum, cherry and apple. He is a man of energy and enterprise and has met with deserved success.

On February 13, 1872, Mr. McKinney was united in marriage with Harriet Hudson, a daughter of John R. Hudson, of Grand Lodge, Michigan. She was born in St. Lawrence County, New York. To them were born the following children: John H., was born June 29, 1874, who is identified with the Northern Pacific Railroad, and lives at Superior, Wisconsin; Ira H., born August 25, 1876, who is a chemist in the employ of the Marine City Sugar Company, of Marine City, Michigan; Nellie, born March 28, 1878, deceased, who was the wife of Van Rensselaer B. Clark of Metamora, by whom she had two children, John McKinney and Helen Gark McKinney, the latter having been adopted by our subject; and Mary, born December 25, 1879, who is a teacher in the Bay City public schools. Religiously, Mr. McKinney and his family belong to the Fremont Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was trustee for many years. He resides with his family in a comfortable seven room home, which he built at the time of moving upon his place in 1893. Politically, he is a Republican but has never taken an active part in political affairs.

Father, Ira McKinney. - Added Nov., 2010.

Michigan Pioneer Society, Historical Collections Vol. 13,


Ira McKinney, one of the pioneers of the Saginaw valley, died on his farm, now within the limits of Bay City, Apri 11, 1888, in the 85th year of his age.

Mr. McKinney was born in Orange county, State of New York, January 24, 1804. He came to Detroit in 1835, where he was engaged in the saw mill business. In 1846 removed to Portsmouth, now part of Bay City, where he was engaged in the same business for years, when, getting old, he retired to his farm, where he lived until his death. He leaves four daughters and one son to mourn his loss.

Mr. McKinney belong to no church, but in attending worship always went to the Universalist church.

Additional Notes.

    1872 - Michigan Marriages: Grand Ledge, Eaton, Mich.

  • John Y. McKinney, age 35, born in Detroit married Feb. 13, 1872 to Hattie Hudson, age 26, born in Potsdam, N.Y.

    1880 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • McKinney, John G. - b. 1837, Mich.
  • Harriet Z., wife - b. 1846, New York.
  • John H., son - b. 1875, Mich.
  • Ira H., son - b. 1877, Mich.
  • Nella, daughter - b. 1878, Mich.
  • Mary, daughter - b. 1880, Mich.
  • Hudson, Eva, sister-inlaw - b. 1854, Mich.
    Hudson, Volney E. brother-inlaw - b. 1852, Mich.

    1910 - Census: Portsmouth, Bay, Mich.

  • McKinney, John - age 73, b. Mich.
  • Harriette, wife - age 64, b. New York.
  • Mary, daughter - age 29, b. Mich.
  • Helen, grand-daughter - age 7, b. Mich.

    1912 - Michigan Deaths: Bay City, Mich. John Y. McKinney, died June 25, 1912, burial at Elm Lawn Cemetery.

Related Pages/Notes

Capt. John Y. McKinney

Related Pages:
Campbell, Daniel
People Referenced
23d MI Vol. Inf.
Campbell, Daniel
Clark V.R.B.
Eastman, Henry N.
Hudson, Eva (sis-inlaw)
Hudson, Harriet (wife)
Hudson, John R (f-inlaw)
Hudson, Volney E. (bro-inlaw)
Johnson, Clark
McKinney, Eliza (sis)
McKinney, Helen H (g-dau)
McKinney, Ira (father)
McKinney, Ira H. (son)
McKinney, James R. (bro)
McKinney, John (g-son)
McKinney, John H. (son)
McKinney, John Y. (subject)
McKinney, Lucinda (sis)
McKinney, Mary (dau)
McKinney, Mary E. (sis)
McKinney, Nellie (dau)
McKinney, Sarah J. (sis)
McKinney, William (bro)
Owen, Humphrey
Russell, C.L.
Somerville, Elizabeth (mother)
Wilber, Charles
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay City Schools
Bay County, MI
Cleveland, OH
Denver, CO
Des Moines, IO
Detroit, MI
Eaton County, MI
Fremont Med-Epis Ch.
Grand Ledge, MI
Marine City, MI
Marine City. Sugr. Co.
New York, NY
Northern Pacific RR
Orange Co. NY
Portsmouth Twp., Bay
Potsdam, NY
Russell & McKinney
St Lawrence Co., MI
St Paul, MN
Superior, WI
Universalist Church
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.